We're making transparency reporting easier

Ben CreetA blog post from Ben Creet, Issues Manager at InternetNZ
2 August 2016

Today we are launching our Easy Transparency project. Easy Transparency is a set of templates and tools to help New Zealand organisations start doing yearly transparency reporting. It builds off our earlier work on the ISP Spotlight and our position paper Towards a world without mass surveillance.

Trade Me has been doing transparency reports for four years now and we think their report is excellent. But why don't others do it?  Transparency reporting can seem scary, it can seem confrontational, but ultimately, it's about coming to grips with two main things.

  1. making a commitment to be open about how often customers' information is accessed by government agencies
  2. investing the time and effort into discharging your obligations under the Privacy Act.

We made these resources because we want everyone to better understand how often government agencies are acquiring information about New Zealanders. It is too much? It is about right? We simply don't know.

What we do know is that in recent times a bank handed over a journalist's information because NZ Police asked for it. In its 2014 transparency report Trade Me pointed out that Inland Revenue required information from Trade Me about 44,000+ members using a single statutory power. Meanwhile, the 10 organisations that took part in the Privacy Commissioner's transparency trial last year received over 11,000 requests during a three month period.

We think New Zealand is overdue for a little more sunlight on government access to private information. Some government agencies have been really great in getting on board with this project. After all, why would government agencies be scared of New Zealand organisations publishing stats on agency requests and warrants? I mean, if they've done nothing wrong, they've got nothing to hide.

As a part of our commitment to do things "this decade" we've published the templates both on our site and in a GitHub repository. The template is written in markdown so it should be super simple for web teams to take the content and incorporate it into existing web platforms.

The GitHub repository is actually the authoritative 'source of truth' for these resources as they'll be where we can clearly, and easily, show updates and changes based on feedback. So make sure you check in on the github repository before pressing publish.

If you want to talk more about transparency reporting then get in touch. Otherwise, enjoy and be excellent to each other.